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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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'Women must decide their fate': Thousands attend pro-choice march

Pro-life campaigners have said organisers of the demonstration are in “absolute denial”.

Updated: 15.20

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE have attended the fourth annual pro-choice march in Dublin city today.

'Women must decide their fate': Thousands attend pro-choice march
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  • March for Choice

    Source: Sam Boal
  • March for Choice

    Source: Sam Boal
  • March for Choice

    Source: Sam Boal
  • March for Choice

    Source: Sam Boal
  • March for Choice

    Source: Sam Boal
  • March for Choice

    Source: Sam Boal
  • March for Choice

    Source: Sam Boal
  • March for Choice

    Source: Sam Boal
  • March for Choice

    Source: Sam Boal

The demonstration began at the Garden of Remembrance at 2pm before moving towards Merrion Square.

cli Source: Cliodhna Russell/TheJournal.ie

Protesters chanted as they marched, some shouted “Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate” while others upped the ante repeating: “F**k the church, f**k the state, women must decide their fate.”

One demonstrator told TheJournal.ie: “It’s a very sad situation for somebody to be in, but as some of the chants say, it’s our body, our choice.”

Several politicians took part in the march, including Socialist MEPs from various EU countries.

Speaking to RTÉ, Labour junior minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said he believed a referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment “would be trounced” if it was held tomorrow, adding: “It would be 20 years before we can return to it.”

Holding a referendum on repealing the amendment is likely to be on the agenda for the next government. A recent opinion poll found that 28% of people will decide how they will vote at the next election based on what a political party or candidate says about abortion.

A Red C poll for Amnesty International Ireland in July found that 81% of people surveyed wanted either full access to abortion or access in the case of rape, incest, risk to health or fatal foetal abnormality, as well as risk to life.

Read: ‘It’s time for political parties to stop procrastinating. Abortion regulation does not belong in our constitution’

Read: ‘There is no public demand to repeal the 8th and politicians know that’

Large crowds attended today’s demonstration, which has been criticised by pro-life campaigners.

Taryn Trainor, Regional Equalities Officer of trade union Unite, said: “Reproductive rights have transformed the lives of working women – yet women in Ireland are still denied one of the most crucial reproductive rights, the right to access abortion on this island.”

Around 5,000 women each year are forced to travel to avail of abortion services elsewhere. Other women – those who are financially or physically unable to travel, or who lack the necessary documentation – are subjected to an abortion regime that treats them as little more than incubators.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said:

“For too long, the reality of abortion for women and girls in Ireland has been hidden – shrouded in secrecy and shame. Successive governments have been content to exile women and girls to foreign shores to access a health service to which they have a human right.”

The current government has also stood over the 30-year-old constitutional ban on abortion except where women or girls could die. In 2013 it enacted legislation re-criminalising women, girls and health professionals were they to have or perform abortions in all other cases. It is shocking that women could face 14 years in prison for daring to exercise their human rights.

A spokesperson for the pro-life campaign has said organisers of today’s march are in “absolute denial regarding the hurt and heartbreak caused by abortion for many women”.

Dr Ruth Cullen said: “The pro-choice side are behaving as though they have a monopoly when it comes to the experiences of women who have had abortions.

Sadly, there will be no time set aside at today’s march for the stories of the thousands of Irish women who travelled abroad for abortion and deeply regret their decision. Nor will there be any mention of the thousands of Irish women who came very close to taking the advice of pro-choice counsellors to opt for abortion only to change their minds at the last minute.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute added: “The push for abortion in Ireland is almost entirely media led and driven, and has failed to attract significant grassroots support. That’s because Irish people are aware that abortion kills babies and harms women, and no amount of spin can cover up that fact.”

Read: More than a quarter of people say abortion will sway their vote

Read: Fianna Fáil will NOT hold a referendum on the 8th

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Órla Ryan

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